On Monday I took a day off work and drove out to Lewes Delaware to visit a nice guy named Lee, who has been quietly working on Scouts exclusively for the past ten years. His bread and butter has been the wealthy beach clientele who can drop thousands on a rig each year for upgrades, but he’s helped average guys out like me as well. He was kind enough to take most of the day to talk with Brian and I, and I didn’t have enough space in my brain to hold all of the stuff we learned. His shop is stuffed full of IH parts and gear; he has two gleaming 392’s up on stands being rebuilt.
He was kind enough to put our rigs up on his lift, and we went over the mechanicals from the underside. Brian’s truck is, of course, in excellent shape (Lee had worked on it for the previous owner, and actually was trying to help him sell it at one point) and he showed us how to add rear disc brakes with the kit he and his son developed for one of the larger Light Line vendors. Then we put Peer Pressure up on the lift, and predictably he found some things that needed attention before driving to Ohio: both of the right side wheel bearings are in need of replacement, and the tie rod end is shot on the passenger side.
There was some little stuff that can get fixed later: when we put the front brakes on we put the hoses on backwards. At some point if I’m feeling sporty I can remove the shim on the starter motor; that’s only required for automatics. And I’m going to have to replace the transmission mounts pretty soon, as they are toast.
I also learned that the belt driven spaghetti-hosed lump next to my battery is an air pump, designed to thin out the particulates in the exhaust for 1970’s era emissions laws. Lee pointed out all of the smog hoses I can get rid of to plug vacuum leaks and help the engine run smoother. When that day comes, I bought eight specially-designed plugs to fill the holes left behind.
While we were there a bright yellow Scout came in on a flatbed from Colorado, freshly bought sight unseen from the internet. We walked out and looked it over with him, and even that was an education for us both. Dig that crazy chrome rollbar. It’s pretty incredible what Scouts are going for these days, and from what he says, some of the IH-specific parts are getting as thin on the ground as the trucks are. I mentioned what I had squirreled away in the garage and he told me I was sitting on a goldmine—and not to throw anything away.
We sat and shot the shit until about 5PM, and paid him what he asked; his time was worth much more but he refused to take anything beyond that.
I hit the road and was lucky enough to avoid all but about 3 minutes of a downpour in Glen Burnie, which actually cooled me off a little bit. The truck ran great both ways and I can’t be more pleased with the heat matting. According to the Googles I put 234 miles on the truck, although the odo says 194 for various reasons.
I’m headed over the bridge tomorrow to visit a fellow who goes by the name scout_guru on Instagram. He’s got a shop at his house and for the last ten years he’s worked exclusively on Scouts, and I’ve wanted to stop by and visit since before the pandemic. We’ve talked on the phone several times and he couldn’t be a nicer guy; I’m looking forward to the trip and to shooting the breeze with him.
I was smoking meat in the backyard yesterday and as a result I couldn’t venture far. So naturally I did some small Scout stuff. The big project was to finish moving snaps on the snap rail, and to bust out the plastic polish to see if I could clean up the windows on the tan top. After about an hour of washing, polishing, washing and polishing, I got all three windows looking pretty good! It’s much easier to see out of all three of them now, and the top snaps in place much better.
I vacuumed out the dust, reorganized some tools, and threw Brian’s ammo can in the back to bring to him tomorrow when we meet up. The oil is full and looks clean, and we’ve got sunny weather forecast for the day, so I’m optimistic.
On my way out of D.C. yesterday I fell in behind this engineering masterpiece, and many questions were asked:
- What is that bar those shocks are connected to?
- What is that bar connected to?
- Do the bars act sort of like torsion suspension along with the springs, to slightly soften what must be a kidney-punching ride?
- How did this man add leaf springs and what are those leaf spring hangers connected to?
- How does this handle at speed?
I mean, it’s drivable, as it made it up to the District from South Carolina, but damn.
One of the primary reasons I wanted a Scout was because the truck was designed to be convertible by cigarette-smoking men in the 1960’s who barely considered passenger safety or crash protection. Having a soft top for the summer is a primary concern, and something I factored into the purchase of both my trucks. I was lucky—both came with soft tops. There was a decade or so where nobody was making new ones—Kayline went out of business in 2001 and Bestop decided there wasn’t enough money in it and focused solely on Jeeps. Softopper is now making new units which are by all accounts excellent, but are eye-wateringly expensive—so I feel better about hoarding them. At this point I’ve got three:
1. The original Kayline top from Chewbacca, a snap-close model, in a color called Nutmeg, which is a medium brown color. I think this would look hideous matched with Peer Pressure’s blurple, so I’ve never installed it. It’s in very good shape—the canvas is clean, the zippers are all intact, the plastic windows are clear and mostly unblemished, and it has been sitting in cool storage for ten years. When I sold Chewbacca to Brian I was going to give it to him as a completion present but got a great deal on a used tan top and gave him the choice of the two; he liked the look of the tan top better (I agreed with his preference). I have the whole hardware kit for this— a set of padded bows, metal door frames, snap bed rails, and windshield rail.
2. The black Kayline top that came with Peer pressure, a Fastrac model, in black vinyl. This was used and in somewhat rough shape when it came to me on the truck. There are a couple of holes over the rear seat which thankfully haven’t gotten any larger. The zippers are plastic and work reasonably well but some of the tracks have come unstitched on each side. The windows are still mostly clear but need a good polishing, and the plastic tracks along the bottom edges are still in good shape. I have the entire hardware kit for this top. I’ve modified this one with snaps on the canvas door flaps and metal door frames to replace the useless velcro it came with, and it makes a huge difference.
3. The $50 tan top that’s currently on the truck, which is another snap model. The canvas on this one is in excellent shape, which is shocking. The driver’s side zipper has come almost completely off the canvas, and the rain flap over the passenger door is also coming unstitched. All of the windows are very clear, but there’s a vertical split on the driver’s side about four inches long. I have the entire hardware kit for this also. I modified this with snaps around the door canvas as well.
All of these need a good cleaning and the windows need polishing. Somewhere I’ve got some Meguiar’s plastic polish that can be applied with a soft buffing wheel that will help with visibility through the windows. At some point I need to wrestle the tan top inside and restitch the zipper, or find someone in Annapolis with a sail repair business who can fix it up for me.
In the meantime, because the tan top is a snap model, I drilled one of the two snap rail sets out to match the existing holes in the bed rails. The driver’s side went on with a little finagling. Once it was mounted I found that the front snaps went on easily but the back snaps were too high by about 2″ at the endcaps. The way the top fits, the edges will never reach the snap rails, even when it’s heated up by the sun. The passenger side went on easier, and I dug into my snap replacement kit and installed four new barrels on each side so that I can (mostly) close it up with the bows loose. It’s not perfect, but it’s a lot better than it was.
Here’s the first real test of the heat matting I’ve done on a day measuring 92˚ (102˚ with humidity) and after a five-mile ride into and back out of town: the heat matting is averaging around 100˚ along the trans tunnel and up the firewall, while the bare metal is around 115˚ at every point. I’d call that a success!
Yesterday, July 4, was a beautiful day. The weather was in the mid 80’s, the humidity was low, and I was exhausted from a very small parade party we hosted, where I drank more than my usual amount of beer and saw more than my usual amount of people. I was prepared to sit on the couch and play The Division 2 all afternoon but realized a perfect opportunity was escaping me, so I went out and started cutting heat matting down on the Scout.
First I put a section on the inside of the passenger door, which has always sounded like a dumpster being dropped off a bridge when it closes. I’m a pro at breaking down Scout doors so this took little time, and after I’d wiped the interior down with acetone the heat matting went on very quickly.
Then I started working on the driver’s firewall in sections. It took some time and some trimming, but I got the main section of the vertical rise done all the way down to the high beam switch over to the rise under the gas pedal.
On Monday I got back at it, beginning with the passenger’s side. First I ripped out all the vestigial IH padding I could reach and first washed the firewall, then rubbed it down with acetone before spraying the rusty areas with Eastwood encapsulator. It looks like the welds going up the side are a little crusty, and I think there’s probably more where the windshield meets the firewall—but that’s for another day.
While I was in there I pulled the passenger vent out, cleaned it up, sprayed the backside with encapsulator, and left it to cure.
While that was drying I unscrewed the transfer case knob and pulled the trans tunnel cover off, giving it the same treatment: a scrub with some Simple Green, a rubdown with acetone, and drying in the sun.
Then I used the outline of the case to cut a section of mat and applied it to the underside of the cover, cutting out the holes with a sharp boxcutter. It’s always looked like shit—it’s not the standard International green they used on base-model trucks but some kind of baby-poop brown, so I sprayed it with black paint and let it cure.
Back in the truck I started cutting sections of mat out and matching them to the geometry, working from the outside inward. It all went pretty smoothly, and when I’d covered the front section I was faced with the side of the trans tunnel. Should I cover it? Looking inside the trans tunnel, I saw that the previous owner had carefully undercoated as much of the underside as possible, which meant I wouldn’t be able to get the matting to stick under there. I decided that comfort outweighed aesthetics for the time being and cut a section for the interior to keep passengers from burning their legs.
And, because I didn’t really want to burn my legs, I put a matching section on the driver’s side. Finally, I cut a section for the area over the top of the tunnel, and put the remainder of the matting away.
Replacing the trans cover was a great moment, because after I’d washed the shift boots and put new stainless screws in, the cabin of the truck looked completely different.
It’s good to have that done, and I’m hoping it’ll make a big difference when it comes time to drive to Ohio. I don’t know how I’m going to hide all of the foil, but I’m hopeful it will beat back the heat.
I saw an ad pop up on Facebook Marketplace for some parts a few weeks ago and filed it away for future reference; as our trip to Mom’s got closer I reached out to the seller. He was in Pine City, a little south and west of Cayuga Lake, so I scheduled a visit on our way home.
The trip from Mom’s house was very pretty and one I’d never made before. We drove down the west side of the lake, parallel to the shore for 2/3 of its length. It was wild to see Aurora from across the water even if I couldn’t make anything out at that distance. We also saw several old Internationals along the way, something I rarely experience, especially up that far north.
The seller lived out in the middle of nowhere, and as I pulled up he already had the fender on the lawn and was coming around the house with a Dana 20 on the lift of a small tractor. We shot the breeze for a while, and I eventually talked him down a little on the condition of the fender; it’s got some bondo on the front edge (and a new dent, yay) and pinholes around the lip of the wheel arch. I can definitely work with it, though, and after a chemical stripping and some sanding I think I can weld the pinholes and clean it up.
The Dana 20 was less of a priority but was something I was interested in just to have a spare sitting in the garage; at some point I’ll take it to be rebuilt and sealed up but for now it’s quietly leaking gear oil on the floor of the garage. He also had a tailgate with the cleanest interior sheetmetal I’ve ever seen. Usually it looks like someone was hauling boulders around in the back of the truck, but there was hardly a scratch on the inside of this one. The outside had some rust-through though, and I’ve already got a spare in the garage, so I passed.
So now I’ve got two solid replacement front fenders, which makes me feel pretty good. Clean fenders are pretty rare on the ground so I’m happy to stock up on spares if the price is right—and they’re getting more expensive.
After much hemming and hawing I busted out a drill and an angle grinder and set up the ammo can the way I’ve been planning since last year. Ultimately I went with my first plan, which was to bolt the tongue of the hasp to the bottom of the can and bolt the staple to the bed of the truck. This went pretty smoothly. I cut the hinge off the hasp, drilled holes in it and the can, and bolted them together after trimming the bolts to size. Then I cut a piece of steel down to boost the height of the staple and bolted that into the bed. All the bare metal got cleaned with acetone, etch primed, and painted with flat camouflage green, and tomorrow I’ll drop the can in place. All it needs then is a second lock for the bed of the truck.
I did also get a roll of heat matting in the mail last week, and I’m looking at how and when I can install some on the firewall. Poking around in front of the seats this evening, the factory insulation looked pretty good on the passenger side and terrible on the driver’s side—so I tore it out in front of the pedals.
I think the key to adding this stuff is going to be sanding the rusty spots down, hitting them with encapsulator, then cleaning the surfaces as much as possible with acetone or some other degreaser.
There are a lot of mechanical bits on the driver’s side that need to stay uncovered so I’ll have to work around those. I think the plan will be to prep the areas as mentioned above and then use some heavy paper or cardboard to template out the matting. It says all over the box “VERY STICKY” and it would be my luck to get it stuck to the brake pedal or something.
I’m first going to cut a section and do a test run on the passenger’s door first so I know what I’m dealing with. Closing that door sounds like dropping a frying pan onto a dumpster, so having the matting help with vibration will be great.
There hasn’t been much going on with the Scout, other than trips around town. Frankly, we don’t get out much, so anytime I have to use a car I take the Scout. She starts right up and is always ready to go, and for that I’m thankful.
I’ve been slowly futzing with the ammo can toward the eventual goal of getting it permanently installed this summer. Where we left off was engineering a way to secure a hasp to the bottom of the can in the least obtrusive way possible. I’ve been thinking I’d drill and bolt it to the bottom to have the hasp stick out to meet the staple, which would be bolted to the bed of the truck. Where the can is positioned now, the staple would bolt down into the main crossmember at the rear of the bed, which would be perfect. But now I’m second-guessing myself and wondering if the staple should be on the can and the hasp be hinged and bolted to the floor of the truck so the staple isn’t sticking up when the can isn’t in place. I’ll have to go out and stare at it some more before pulling out the drill. In the meantime I bought some seam sealer to close up the gaps my shitty welding blew through, and found some flat olive spray paint that almost matches the color of the can for the welded sections.
My next project will be to install some heat matting on the inside firewall to knock some of the temperature back out of the cabin. She runs very hot in the summertime, and any thermal protection I can get will be welcome. So I have to pull any vestigal insulation out from under the dash, clean up the firewall as best I can, and then cut and roll the insulation into place. I’d love to put it all the way down the transmission tunnel but I’ll likely never add carpeting to the truck and I don’t want it to get chewed up. We’ll see how well this works. I’m also going to throw a patch on the inside of each door to reduce the sound they make in the cabin and when the doors close.
Finally I’m thinking about seating position. I put the bikini top on last night and remembered that it touches my head when I’m sitting at a light. This is because The PT Cruiser seats are an inch or two higher than the stock buckets.
Going back down a little to the stock height is a possibility. I’ve got two spare steel seat bases in the garage that could be cut and welded to sit lower on the floor; I just need to figure out how I’d bend the metal cleanly inside the box. I toyed with the idea of buying/building a small metal brake of some kind, but then I thought about how two short pieces of angle iron bolted to a bench would give me exactly the results I need at a fraction of the cost.